Ashurst diversity credentials attacked as firm lets go half its BME trainees

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  • This focus on BME (what a horrendous acronym) is a very poor way of assessing diversity and discrimination. The biggest discrimination (in a variety of forms) in City law is against those from lower class backgrounds and from state schools. This is the source of the problem, not racial prejudice against black or asian people.

    In my time in City law I met a number of 'BME' lawyers but they were all, without any exception that I can recall, privately educated and privileged. How do we know that in the statistics above amongst these 'BME' trainees was, say, the daughter of a wealthy Singaporean banker educated at Marlborough or a black British gent educated at Wellington College? perhaps some of the white trainees could have been working class and educated at a comprehensive?

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  • "Half of those were not offered jobs, while the remaining two exited voluntarily to pursue other opportunities."
    That appears to cover six of the trainees not eight...

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  • 8 out of 30 trainees is just over a quarter of the trainee intake. Given that this is significantly more than the BME percentage of the population, I don't see how it can seriously be argued simply on retention rates alone that Ashurst is not committed to diversity, at least in intention. Maybe it is the case that the retained trainees were simply the best candidates?

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  • You lawyers really are not good with numbers:

    "The firm had a total 30 trainees due to qualify in September 2013, eight of whom came from a BME background. Half of those were not offered jobs, while the remaining two exited voluntarily to pursue other opportunities."

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  • "Tim" is spot on - both as to the root cause of discrimination and the unthinking stereotyping of the BMEs. The source suggests Ashurst needs to review how it retains its talent. Could the truth be more prosaic - the ones let go were - relative to the ones retained - not particularly talented?

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  • You have 30 trainees and eight come from a BME background. Half of the BMEs are not retained and two of the BMEs pursue other opportunities. How many rolls of wallpaper will you require to decorate both the sittting room and the dining room?

    10 marks - (show workings)

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  • This could be coincidence. After all, across the UK top 150 firms and over several years you would expect to see this happen from time to time.

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  • It is senseless to talk in percentages when you are referring to a total group comprised of eight people in a pool of 30. Issues of race and class are nuanced and sensitive; the author is a fool that rushed in where angels fear to tread.

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  • Given that Ashurst hired a pretty high proportion of BME trainees in the first place it would seem a bit strange if they then discriminated when it came time to offering NQ positions (once they've spent so much on hiring/training). I think it unlikely that partners from four different practice areas would all reject a trainee on such arbitrary grounds unless the trainee was sub-par.

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  • The lesson here...check your maths when lawyers are around

    All for challenging firms to think about BME engagement, but need to avoid starting witch hunts based on statistics. It would be pretty hard on those trainees who were not from a BME background if hiring decisions were not purely meritocratic- hopefully Ashurst just hired the best people for the job

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